Championship Preview
Leeds United's Luke Ayling (left) and Stoke City's James McClean battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Elland Road, Leeds. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Welcome to the fifth edition of our EFL Championship preview series for the 2019/20 season. We’ll be taking a closer look at two of the key weekend matches, as well as having a crack at predicting the outcomes of all 12 fixtures.

Championship Preview: Matchweek 5

Key Games

Stoke City v Leeds United

The first match we look at in the Championship preview will be contested by two clubs with very contrasting fortunes. Both began the season hopeful of promotion, but only one looks like a serious contender.

Leeds United sit top of the table early on with three wins and one draw. They’ve scored seven goals already and have allowed just two, joint-fewest in the division.

Meanwhile, Stoke City sit at the foot of the table with one point having conceded ten goals already. In fact, they have yet to concede fewer than two goals in a single match in the early season.

Victory for Leeds would keep them atop, or at least on pace with Swansea City. However, a home win for Stoke could ignite their push for a place in the playoffs. On the other hand, another poor result could spell disaster and a possible season-long battle with relegation.

Swansea City v Birmingham City

The other marquee matchup we look at in the Championship preview takes place on Sunday. Swansea are set to host Birmingham City as second in the table plays host to eighth.

The Swans lost manager Graham Potter to the vacated Brighton & Hove Albion post in the summer. Some thought that would damage the Welsh side’s ability to mount a promotion challenge.

However, they sit level with leaders Leeds on points currently and look to continue their winning ways against Birmingham. The Blues, meanwhile, were amongst the favourites for the drop yet sit in a respectable eighth place in the table.

They have shown a certain resilience that few pundits thought was there before the season began. While Swansea will certainly be favourites, this should be an interesting match.

Championship Preview: Predictions

Derby County v West Bromwich Albion

Both clubs came into the new season with hopes of a promotion push. Derby finished sixth last season and advanced to the playoff final, fueling hopes of going a step further this year. West Bromwich Albion also finished in the playoff places but stumbled against Aston Villa in the playoff semifinals.

Of the two, Albion have had a better season thus far as they occupy sixth on eight points. Derby, however, are struggling at the moment. They have just five points and sit in 14th in the table and could struggle even at home in this match.

Derby County 2-2 West Bromwich Albion

Blackburn Rovers v Cardiff City

Blackburn Rovers stayed up last season, which was really the only goal for the campaign. They look to consolidate their position in the Championship this time around and sit in a respectable 11th. Cardiff City, meanwhile, are just one place below them in the table after suffering relegation from the Premier League last season. Neither have been fantastic in the opening fixtures, but the Bluebirds will be favourites.

Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Cardiff City

Charlton Athletic v Brentford

Charlton Athletic did well to earn promotion into the Championship last season, but this season the only real goal will be safety. Brentford, on the other hand, are amongst the clubs hopeful of a playoff place this season. However, through the opening few matches, these two clubs have reversed roles with Charlton sitting in fifth and Brentford in 18th.

Charlton Athletic 2-1 Brentford

Fulham v Nottingham Forest

Both these clubs will expect a decent season with Fulham having recently returned from the Premier League and Nottingham Forest have both experience and depth in their squad. The Cottagers look like they should be contenders for an automatic promotion place all season as they have collected nine points through four matches. Forest, meanwhile, languish in 13th place on five points.

Fulham 3-1 Nottingham Forest

Barnsley v Luton Town

The other two clubs promoted from League One last season are facing each other this weekend. Barnsley are in 20th on four points and Luton Town find themselves in 22nd having collected just the one point. It will be a tight match that may have serious implications come the end of the season.

Barnsley 2-2 Luton Town

Hull City v Bristol City

Hull City have been tipped for a lower-table finish. Starman Jarrod Bowen will hope to help the Tigers to a top-half finish or better, but the odds are against such a feat. Bristol City, on the other hand, looked well equipped to challenge for a top-six spot after a few good summer signings. Early signs are good for seventh-place Bristol and about as expected for 17th-place Hull.

Hull City 1-2 Bristol City

Middlesbrough v Millwall

Johnathan Woodgate’s side have been mentioned as possible playoff contenders but haven’t quite looked it so far this season. Middlesbrough find themselves in a distant 16th having taken just four points. Millwall are having contrasting fortunes to what was expected of them, sitting in ninth place on seven points. However, the Lions haven’t exactly convinced so far and should deviate to the norm.

Middlesbrough 1-1 Millwall

Preston North End v Sheffield Wednesday

Preston North End are doing exactly what was expected from them before the season started: stay in the middle of the pack. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, may soon find themselves with a nosebleed having taken nine points from their first four matches. The Owls will likely at some point fall back down the table but their fine form should see them through this weekend.

Preston North End 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic

Another battle between relegation candidates. Queens Park Rangers sold Luke Freeman to Sheffield United in the summer and will probably struggle to replace his output. Wigan Athletic survived last season but didn’t do much else and didn’t strengthen much in the summer. This is another match which could have implications later in the season.

Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Stoke City v Leeds United

As mentioned above, this fixture looked very juicy before the first match of the season but much less so now. Stoke will have to discover form that they haven’t found yet this season to bag three points against the league leaders.

Stoke City 1-3 Leeds United

Huddersfield Town v Reading

Huddersfield Town finished bottom of the Premier League last season, but were hopeful of promotion at the first try, even if they are far from favourites for the title. Reading, on the other hand, battled against relegation from the Championship last season. However, thus far in the new campaign, it is the Terriers who are struggling more mightily.

Huddersfield Town 2-2 Reading

Swansea City v Birmingham City

As previously mentioned, Birmingham are having a better than expected season. However, they face an opponent determined to regain their status as a Premier League side. The Blues will find life difficult in Wales.

Swansea City 3-1 Birmingham City

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